Brotli vs Gzip Compression (2022)

by | Last Updated Mar 22, 2022 | Performance and Optimisation | 0 comments

An excellent way to shrink your page sizes is through compression methods such as Brotli and Gzip.

Both compression methods are beneficial for the overall quality and site speed. Since the 90s, Gzip has continued to be the most widely used compression method.

But Gzip is not the only available and popular method. Brotli, on the other hand, is a relatively new compression method but getting popular quickly.

Which compression should you be applying? Brotli or Gzip?

Let’s find out the difference between Brotli and Gzip compression, how to use Brotli and Gzip in WordPress, and some considerations regarding the use of Brotli and Gzip. Compression is a vital part of website performance. It is worth learning more about these two different methods.

Brotli vs. Gzip Compression: The Differences

Both Gzip and Brotli are techniques to compress your website’s files.

Brotli and Gzip are similar in that they compress website files to make them smaller for faster loading. Of course, the difference is how Brotli and Gzip compression work.

Let us cover the basics of Brotli and Gzip first, then the differences between them, and then we can compare performance benchmarks and see which one is better.

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Gzip Compression

Gzip was released on 31 October 1992. After only a couple of years, it became one of the most widely used compression techniques.

Jean-Loup Gailly and Mark Adler created gzip, and it was initially developed for the usages of GNU. Thus the name GNUzip, or in short Gzip.

Since the 90s, Gzip has rapidly been used on web servers.

Even today, it is the most popular compression method. DEFLATE algorithm is the most commonly used method to compress data and the base of Gzip compression.

Gzip has different compression levels, ranging from 1 – 9.

Service providers such as hosting companies can change the compression level via the server configuration. There are nine quality compression levels in Gzip. The higher the quality level, the more efficient the compression output in Gzip. But it will affect the compression process speed.

Level 1 has a slight compression output, and at the same time, it is faster than the higher compression process. Level 9 is the slowest compression mode, but it provides high-quality compression.

All major browsers support Gzip compression. And most web hosting providers, including Rovity, also offer Gzip compression, so you might already be using it.

Rovity always uses the latest technology on our hosting server infrastructures, so at Rovity, we favor Brotli compression over Gzip because it is more efficient. I will explain more about that below.

Brotli Compression

Brotli is much younger than gzip, yet it quickly becomes the most widely used compression method globally.

Can I Use Brotli

Software engineers from Google created Brotli on 15 October 2013. Brotli compression is now widely used across Google’s services and other large service providers. Until 2015 it didn’t gain much traction with popular web browsers because it wasn’t focused on HTTP compression.

Since 2015, though, compression technology is gradually being embedded into web browsers, which has driven the adoption of Brotli. It took some time for adoption. However, now all major web browsers support Brotli compression out of the box.

Brotli also has different compression level settings, adjusted to decrease or increase compression. Brotli has eleven levels to choose from, as we have in Gzip.

Level 1 has small file saving, but the compression speed is faster. Level 11 gives maximum file size savings, but the compression speed would be slower.

Brotli vs. Gzip Benchmarks: Who Performs Better?

Let us ask the big question. Who Performs Better? Brotli or Gzip?

This is a question that web server users and WordPress website owners often ask. Let us see some public benchmark test results better, Brotli or Gzip?

Before looking at the results, let’s know a few things about web performance and compression.

Compression Ratio is the percentage of the file’s original size reduced when the file is compressed.

Compression Speed is the time taken to compress or decompress a file. Compression Speed is vital for dynamic content websites because they need to compress content on the fly.

Let Us Take a Look at the Data

Let us take a look at the content-delivery giant Akamai’s benchmark. Akamai listed the top 1,000 URLs. Then downloaded the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files from the URLs.

Akamai compressed those files with both Gzip and Brotli methods. Here are their benchmark results.

Brotli vs Gzip – HTML

  • Median Gzip Savings 78% 78%
  • Median Brotli Savings 82% 82%

Median Brotli Improvement Over Gzip is 21%

Brotli vs Gzip – JavaScript

  • Median Gzip Savings 63% 63%
  • Median Brotli Savings 68% 68%

Median Brotli Improvement Over Gzip is 14%

Brotli vs Gzip – CSS

  • Median Gzip Savings 79% 79%
  • Median Brotli Savings 82% 82%

Median Brotli Improvement Over Gzip is 17%

But the better result of compression is more than just smaller file sizes.

It is also vital to how long it takes to finish the compression (Compression Speed). Akamai found that compression speed matters when the compression level we use.

At some levels, Gzip was faster and more effective, but Brotli is more efficient and takes up less space most of the time.

If you can tweak the Brotli settings a little bit, the compression speeds can surpass Gzip rates. At the same time, Brotli provides some significant compression. Akamai concludes their report.

OpenCPU also ran its benchmarks. In terms of the compression ratio, Brotli was superior. At on-the-fly compression, Gzip was much faster. However, it is unclear how much they tweaked Gzip settings.

Famous hotel brand OYO improved its latency by 37% using Brotli compression for its website.

Does the Difference Matter?

The research data shows that Brotli offers a better compression ratio than Gzip.

Brotli compresses our web pages more efficiently by using more compression techniques intelligently. However, remember that it is not about the compression ratio; it’s about the time to load web pages and the website’s speed.

It is also about how compression and decompression techniques affect execution speed. There, the difference matters.

Overall the data suggest that:

Because of the superior compression ratio, Brotli is better at compressing static data.
Gzip often has superior compression speed. It is better at compressing dynamic data.

If you work around the Brotli settings, you can further enhance your web server performance. That will be better than Gzip compression.

This will benefit you to have a better compression ratio. Suppose you are an ordinary WordPress website user. In that case, you don’t need to worry about knowing the difference between Gzip and Brotli compression. It may doesn’t make any difference.

Yeah, it would help if you used either Gzip or Brotli compression on your server to make your website load faster. But for an average WordPress website, you don’t need to worry much about Brotli or Gzip compression.

It is easy to configure WordPress Gzip compression. You won’t need to install anything because Gzip is almost universally used across all hosting platforms. Gzip gets your site compressed without you configuring anything most of the places.

How to Compress Websites With Gzip?

Suppose you are hosted with Rovity or using CDN like Cloudflare. In that case, your site is already benefiting from Gzip’s compression. However, you can also compress your whole site by installing a plugin.

Popular cache plugins like WP Rocket and LiteSpeed enable compressing the entire site. It is handy for blogs, image galleries, and other websites.

Rovity, Cloudflare, or WP Rocket – all of them activate the Gzip compression automatically, so you don’t need to worry about it in most cases. Thus, you don’t need to take any manual actions at all. You can achieve this by just installing the caching plugin.

Suppose your host doesn’t offer Gzip compression by default. In that case, you can also activate Gzip compression by installing a WordPress plugin specifically designed to enable Gzip compression.

How to Enable Gzip Compression on WordPress?

Most WordPress performance and caching plugins, such as WP Rocket, have options that allow you to enable or disable compression.

I highly recommend enabling Gzip compression if you’re running WordPress on a server using it. So that means you don’t need to install any separate plugin or change your settings.

Unless your web host disabled Gzip compression, which is unlikely to happen, then you are good with Gzip compression.

How to Test Gzip Compression?

We have a simple way to check if a web page uses Gzip compression.

You can use Gzip / Brotli Compression Test tools from GiftofSpeed.com. This tool will check Gzip/Brotli Compression and show you helpful information.

Check Gzip or Brotli Compression

How to Use Brotli Compression on WordPress?

Applying Brotli compression on your WordPress site is a little complicated.

You need to pick a host that supports Brotli to enable Brotli compression at a server level. Almost every single host supports Gzip out of the box. Unfortunately, many hosts do not support Brotli out of the box, especially on a shared host.

Suppose your website is hosted on Rovity’s NVMe SSD-powered premium servers. In that case, Brotli compression is automatically enabled for all WordPress sites.

We have enabled Brotli and Gzip by default for your site. We prioritize Brotli over Gzip to help you deliver smaller, faster pages to your visitors, improving user experience and boosting conversion rates.

Rovity Enabled Brotli Compression

Aren’t your sites hosted with Rovity? Ah, I feel that pain, and you don’t feel lost. Luckily, there is another option that works well for all websites.

Cloudflare Brotli Compression

Using Cloudflare CDN, you can enable Brotli compression for your site’s assets. To activate Brotli, go to the Speed Tab. And click on Optimisation.

Cloudflare Brotli Compression

You can toggle On or Off here. Again, if your website is hosted with Rovity, you may not need this setting to enable it.

See more Cloudflare settings to boost your website performance.

How to Test Brotli Compression?

Well, have you connected your WordPress site to Cloudflare and enabled Brotli compression? If not, then it is high time that you do it. For your website to perform better, you should turn on Brotli compression.

See the easy way to test if Brotli is working. Head over to KeyCDN’s Brotli test tool. And analyze your domain here.

Verify Brotli Compression Support

You can see the result if you have Brotli enabled correctly. Once you have Brotli activated, your website will load faster as well as your viewers will experience lesser load times.

Brotli vs. Gzip: Pick the One That’s Best for You

Both Gzip and Brotli help you compress your website’s files. Gzip is the older and more prominent of the two. Brotli is newer but picking up slowly.

Brotli seems to outperform Gzip in some benchmarks, primarily when working around its configuration. For most WordPress users, Gzip is a better starting point.

Gzip is speedy, and it is highly ideal for use on websites. It is highly suited to the widespread use of web servers, significantly decreasing loading time.

Brotli is a newer compression method from Google, is very efficient, and is used in most cloud servers, such as Rovity.

What is your preferred compression mode? Let me know in the comments below.

Want Your Website to Load Fast?

Try Brotli. It occupies much less available space than a Gzip file, yet it can generate faster compression. No wonder it’s the most popular compression format for WordPress.

Website speed is essential. Otherwise, visitors will leave your website before they can get what they need; and it’s also crucial for your SEO. That’s why we deployed Brotli for WordPress – so that your WordPress site could load faster, therefore increasing its functionality and boosting your SEO. This offers a better experience, leading to more traffic and conversions.

Brotli looks great on your website and is easy to set up. All you have to do is migrate your WordPress site to Rovity’s cloud-based NVMe SSD servers. That’s it.

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By Jafar Muhammed

Jafar Muhammed has 10+ years of experience in WordPress, web hosting, domain names, DNS, CDN, server administration, etc. He is an open web advocate. He is the CEO of Rovity, the fastest growing premium shared hosting startup in India.

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